Dry start to summer for North Canterbury

Cameron Henderson
Cameron Henderson
Prices are good, but the latest season has had its challenges for North Canterbury farmers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cameron Henderson said strong prices were giving farmers plenty of confidence, but a chilly spring and a dry start to summer had set production back this season.

‘‘It’s had some challenges. After a wet and cold October which slowed growth down, we had a normal November until the wind in the last week of the month which knocked a few people around.

‘‘It’s been a tough two weeks since then and it will take a couple of weeks to catch up, but it could be worse.’’

But Mr Henderson said a decent amount of rain before Christmas would put farmers back on track.

Milk production was down compared to the same period last year, but there was still time to catch up.

And with Fonterra’s mid-range farmgate milk price forecast of $7.05 and low interest rates, it was ‘‘hard to complain, aside from a few weather hiccups’’.

‘‘The economics of farming are pretty good at the moment,’’ he said.

New regulations were still creating headaches and the climate change debate had ‘‘only really just started’’, but at least Federated Farmers and other organisations were part of the conversation with the Government, Mr Henderson said.

‘‘We are certainly not going to get the perfect outcome, but hopefully we will get more reason and less politics.’’

He was optimistic Canterbury’s progress in the freshwater space, compared to other regions, would mean few changes for local farmers when new legislation was introduced.

‘‘The fencing off of waterways and a lot of the things that are in the proposals, we are already doing and probably doing it better than what the national standards are.

‘‘The best thing the Government could do in Canterbury is leave us alone to get on with it. Farmers, local councils and the wider community have put a huge amount of effort in through the zone committees.

‘‘And it’s not just councils telling us what to do, it’s communities realising what they need to do and that includes farmers.’’

Mr Henderson is also the Waimakariri Zone Committee vice-chairman.

The zone committee was now turning its attention to local catchment plans, with local people collaborating at a local catchment level and going beyond the regulations ‘‘and I think there is a lot of value to be had out of that’’.

-By David Hill

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